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Thread: charter boats and fuel surcharges?

  1. #1

    Default charter boats and fuel surcharges?

    since fuel is killing all of us, have the charter fleets started adding fuel surcharges to their 2008 rates? what about those clients having booked in 2007...are they being surprised when they show up, or will the fees be added to 2009 rates?

    thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Its Not Right

    I don't charge a fuel surcharge. I do now of a few guys that are and have been doing it, I personally don't think its right.

    What I've done is just upped my rates 25.00 per person and those that got quoted a price four months ago got a good deal. I just don't know how people can tell them one price then when they show up spring a 15 percent fuel charge on top of it.

  3. #3
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    Hey Shawn, I already talked to the boys about the cost of fuel and we will definately be taking care of you when we come in august. Especially since I beat you up on the price already. We are looking forward to a nice time and want you to feel good about your time spent with us as well. PM me with an update if you get a chance.
    Thanks, Jeff from NY

  4. #4
    Member Anglette's Avatar
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    We too, just raised the cost per person, no fuel surcharge. That sounds crazy. "OH AND BY THE WAY, YOU OWE US AN ADDITIONAL $25.00 FOR THE FUEL SURCHARGE, WE NEGLECTED TO TELL YOU ABOUT"
    It ain't right. Keep a set price, therefore the clients can budget their trip accordingly, no surprise expenses they weren't told about.

    Terri

  5. #5
    Member captaindd's Avatar
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    Default Sur Fuel Charge

    Valdez they are adding a $12 fuel charge to people that book after June 5. Customers that had already booked and paid the deposit will not be charge the fuel charge. I think the extra charge for fuel should be worked out by the boat owners and the customers. Prices for diesel fuel in April where $4.08 per gallon and now it is $4.64. A 140 mile trip in April cost $408 for fuel the same trip in June is $464 increase of $58. If the same boat goes farther out into the Gulf of Alaska fishing 180 miles round trip cost per charter is $596.57 for fuel. Middleton Island trip which is 250 miles round trip is $835.20 for fuel. The charter boats are like everyone else depending on the distance that they have to go to catch fish and the cost of the fuel will determine what the customer has to pay.

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    Hey captain When we go out in july If it means a better chance at bigger fish I would mind throwin in a little extra to go a little further even though any place has it's chances good luck to ya o by the way how ya bieen doin so far you been able to get out?

  7. #7
    Member akflytrout's Avatar
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    On the rivers in the KP I know a lot of charter service that have raised their prices on clients. I haven't I am going to wait out the season and see what happens.

  8. #8
    Member CanCanCase's Avatar
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    Just my opinion: any business being run as a proper business should have enough fore-sight to plan ahead for this sort of increase. I hadn't raised my regular rates in 3 years, so when fuel started creeping, I took that as one sign that I was under-charging.

    I raised rates effective 1/1/08, and can safely leave them alone until diesel hits $6 in Juneau. The downside to all of this is that now my bookings are down a bit too. It's hard to compete with a boat that's advertising rates 40% less than mine... when you read the fine print, however, the boats that DO add a fuel surcharge actually come out at a higher rate per day than I do for my "all inclusive" pricing.

    As a consumer (like when I go on vacation and fish someplace else) I want to know that what I paid up-front is the final price. Then, if someone busts their butt for me, and/or I realize something is out of control like fuel pricing, I can tip or bonus at the end of the day to help out. Nothing worse than a business that will nickel and dime you to death. (There's a boat here in Juneau - no names named here - that will charge X for a charter, then add $15 per person for a box lunch, $50 per head fuel, $5 per fish to clean, another $5 per pound to fillet and vac-pac, $10 per person for bait, $15 binocular rental... it just goes on and on. I paid a decent rate to go out for a day, and ended up needing $300 cash while I was on board.)

    -Case
    M/V CanCan - 34' SeaWolf - Bandon, OR
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  9. #9
    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanCanCase View Post
    Just my opinion: any business being run as a proper business should have enough fore-sight to plan ahead for this sort of increase. I hadn't raised my regular rates in 3 years, so when fuel started creeping, I took that as one sign that I was under-charging.

    I raised rates effective 1/1/08, and can safely leave them alone until diesel hits $6 in Juneau. The downside to all of this is that now my bookings are down a bit too. It's hard to compete with a boat that's advertising rates 40% less than mine... when you read the fine print, however, the boats that DO add a fuel surcharge actually come out at a higher rate per day than I do for my "all inclusive" pricing.

    As a consumer (like when I go on vacation and fish someplace else) I want to know that what I paid up-front is the final price. Then, if someone busts their butt for me, and/or I realize something is out of control like fuel pricing, I can tip or bonus at the end of the day to help out. Nothing worse than a business that will nickel and dime you to death. (There's a boat here in Juneau - no names named here - that will charge X for a charter, then add $15 per person for a box lunch, $50 per head fuel, $5 per fish to clean, another $5 per pound to fillet and vac-pac, $10 per person for bait, $15 binocular rental... it just goes on and on. I paid a decent rate to go out for a day, and ended up needing $300 cash while I was on board.)

    -Case
    If an outfit did that to me I would come back and scuttle thier boat that same night.

  10. #10
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    I called around Homer and from what I got was

    Charter fee anywhere from $220-$260

    Some of the Charters then would tell you about the fuel surcharge $30

    Then the Homer tax 7%
    Living the Alaskan Dream
    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK

  11. #11
    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    Default Fuel Surcharge

    I can't imagine how anyone can't add a fuel surcharge. I just has a part shipped up by barge and they charge a 20% fuel surcharge. No warning just part of doing business.

    Almost all the boats in Seward are adding a fuel surcharge. Us, Fish House, Profish, Saltwater, Puffin, all of them.... Noone in their right mind would have thought that fuel prices would double in one year. My fuel costs have increased from 500 to 1000 thousand dollars a day!

    That means in a 100 day season I am going to see an increase of 50,000 in fuel alone.

    I can't really think of any other way to cover the cost of fuel other than chargeing for it.

    I have not had a single complaint about it. Granted we contacted every client that booked early and explained the situation to them and did the math so that they understood that the trip was going to be 10 dollars per person more expensive. I think at this point people are very understanding. When fuel prices stabilze, I am sure the price of a fishing charter will do the same. I need to be able to run to where ever the fishing is best and know that the cost of fuel is not going to be the limiting factor on a great trip. For this my clients are willing to pay that cost.

    Without a fuel surcharge I would be out of business this year, after 15 years. So I would say that there is no way any charter business that depends on fuel as part of business can absorb the increased fuel costs this year. I do love to go fishing but I am well beyond the point where I would pay money to run charters.

    If anyone has a better idea of how to deal with doubling fuel costs, feel free to let me know.

    Oh I guess I could just run half the distance and not catch any decent fish and still charge the same.
    That is the only alternative I can think of....Sound good to you?

  12. #12
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    For the most part I don't see many people being upset with the surcharge if they know up front. Now I know from experience being hit up unexpectedly with additional charges left a bad taste in my mouth before.
    Living the Alaskan Dream
    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK

  13. #13

    Default Great Tip

    I just talked to some clients down in Florida. They stated people are starting to charge a minimum for the boat and crew, then having the clients pay for the fuel they used during the day. I guess the Captain has Floscan meters so he knows exactly what he burns and hour. They charge the 900 for the boat then at the end of the day he adds up how much fuel they used then multiply that by the cost at the dock.

    I thought that was a great idea! It protects the owner and gives the clients an option if they want to fish close to town to save money or spend a little more and go were the have better chances.

    Oh by the way, charters for tuna down there are 250.00 an hour....I don't feel so bad charging 275.00 with no fuel surcharge.

    AKCAPT,

    Andy, I can see why big guys like you need to add something. I'm pretty fortunate that I only burn 8 gallons an hour.

    Good luck to everyone this summer.

  14. #14
    Member CanCanCase's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawn View Post
    I just talked to some clients down in Florida. They stated people are starting to charge a minimum for the boat and crew, then having the clients pay for the fuel they used during the day. I guess the Captain has Floscan meters so he knows exactly what he burns and hour. They charge the 900 for the boat then at the end of the day he adds up how much fuel they used then multiply that by the cost at the dock.

    I thought that was a great idea! It protects the owner and gives the clients an option if they want to fish close to town to save money or spend a little more and go were the have better chances...
    Just out of curiosity, how is the money collected at the end of the day? Do they trust that a check is good? Wireless credit card processing? Or is there a visit to a business office at the end of the day?

    With all the tourists we've got here, many of who aren't even US citizens, collecting money after the fact is a problem. (Heck, even collecting from a buddy that agreed to pay for fuel at the end of the week became a problem!) People see all the great travel videos of Alaska and expect a limit of everything in a 4-hour charter. Then, when that doesn't quite happen, many clients feel "shorted" and don't want to pay full price. (I had one guy raid the fridge and take about 4 lbs. of smoked salmon with him one time... he said, "gotta take something home to the wife if you can't catch me 6 fish!"

    Without turning this thread into a "how to run a charter business" discussion, I guess what I don't like about the fuel surcharge concept is the ability to notify clients well ahead of time. If plenty of notice is given, and opportunity to back out, I suppose it's not a bad way to cover one's bottom line. With so much of my business coming from brokers and agents (where I don't even deal with the client until the come aboard), I don't like the idea of clients being quoted one price and then having to collect something else after the fact.

    -Case
    M/V CanCan - 34' SeaWolf - Bandon, OR
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  15. #15

    Smile Who would've thought...

    fuel would get this crazy! I fish with a guy here whose boat burns 2 gph trolling (we troll about 5 knots or so). We average 12 hour days, so 24 or so gallons is not too bad, it's not a charter; he fishes for fun and sells most of his fish. Last Saturday he bagged a 165 lb. yellowfin @ 3.75 per lb., plus caught other fish to keep to eat. Right now the yellowfins are busting loose, 56 came up last Sunday, price dropped to around 2.00 lb. if you can even get rid of them right now. Another friend who I've gone with said right now it costs him 250.00 a day to go fishing (another non-charter guy). I've decked for a number of years in the past both on a sport boat and CI gillnetter; gotta admit that it's a way good road to take when you're comparing that (chartering) to selling fish for a living.
    I (now a sportfisherman) have no problem whatsoever paying whatever fuel surcharges may be required as the charter operator should not have to shoulder that cost and thus take a hit on the day's earnings. Like any business (our glass business included) you have to make a certain amount everyday to pay for all expenses and clear a profit.
    Good fishing to all this year!
    Jim

  16. #16
    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    I agree that the operators have to make money. And I don't have a problem with raising their rates or fuel surcharges................as long as they tell you up front. I would hate to be coming to Alaska for my "trip of a life time" and when I get to the dock, lodge, outfitter etc. and have them say this is your guide Jim, oh and by the way I need an extra $$$$$ per person for fuel.
    I don't think any one would have a problem as long as they're told up front. Either when they book or a month or so prior to their trip. To spring what could amount to hundres of $$$$ when they show up is not the proper way to do business.
    Also outfits that nickel and dime the clients just so they can appear to charge less and dupe unsuspecting tourists deserve to be keel hauled!!!

  17. #17

    Default

    A $10 - $12 sur charge seems reasonable. However, anything more is just wrong. I would be more upset if the charter ran to the local chicken whole a few miles out to save on gas expense, as opposed to running further out where the big ones live.
    Last edited by Steelieguy; 06-09-2008 at 10:47. Reason: spelling

  18. #18
    Member CanCanCase's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steelieguy View Post
    A $10 - $12 sur charge seems reasonable. However, anything more is just wrong. I would be more upset if the charter ran to the local chicken whole a few miles out to save on gas expense, as opposed to running further out where the big ones live.
    A small charter boat here in Juneau will burn anywhere between 15 and 30 gallons of diesel per hour. Let's pick a middle number and call it 20. If you want the boat to run far for bigger fish (vs. sticking to the local chicken holes) that's at least a 2 to 3 hour run each way, plus say another hour or two of running from spot to spot. A total of 8 hours of engine time will burn about 160 gallons of fuel.

    Last year, at $2.75 per gallon, that fuel cost us $440. This year, at $5.00 per gallon (and rising) that same day of running around will cost $800. That's a (conservatively estimated) increase of $360 for the same trip last year vs. this year.

    Now, assuming your boat is full, that $360 divides out to $60 per person... It's much more common, however, that a full-day halibut charter in Juneau will only have 4 clients on board, so dividing the additional cost out, you get $90 per person to cover the fuel cost increase.

    Note that I'm not defending the concept of a surcharge... I'd rather raise my prices to reflect the current year's operating costs and my required margin, then charge everyone the same fee up front. There are many, however, who choose to run their business differently that DO need the surcharge added. $10 per person for a full-day just won't cover things around here! Heaven help the boats working in more rural areas... I've seen $7.32 per gallon diesel in at least 2 communities already....

    Anyone want to buy a well equipped, economical charter boat to use as their personal "yacht"? ;-)

    -Case
    M/V CanCan - 34' SeaWolf - Bandon, OR
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  19. #19
    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    I agree, noone wants to be taken to a crappy fishing spot because of fuel prices. Whether it is a price increase or fuel surcharge there is no doubt that you are all going to be paying more to go fishing. It is a shame. The worst part is that I guess that diesel is not refined in Alaska. It has to go to the lower 48 to get refined and then sent back up to us.... I think regardless of the price of fuel there are going to be a whole lot less charter operators in business by this time next year.

    Seward has the least number of tourists in it that I have seen in 10 years right now. I also heard from a tackle industry guy that fishing charters are down from 30 - 60% in Florida right now because of the economy.....

    One way or the other, I will be here again next year fishing every day.

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